Bristol mayor George Ferguson will help plans for Ashton Gate go smoothly
BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson has promised to make sure that the £40 million rebuild plans for Bristol City's Ashton Gate are given a smooth passage.
Although Mr Ferguson is in charge of the council's planning department, he cannot give consent to schemes – that's the job of councillors who sit on the development control committees.
But he can make sure his planning officers deal with the issue as a top priority and iron out any problems as they arise instead of shoving the file in a pending tray.
It means that Mr Ferguson wants the issue dealt with in terms of weeks rather than months.
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He hopes a decision on planning consent can be made in the autumn which would put the club on track – assuming there were no legal challenges – to get the rebuild finished in time for the 2016/17 season.
Mr Ferguson told The Post: "I would be very surprised if there is any resistance to rebuilding Ashton Gate. Everyone appreciates that the club needs a new stadium and Ashton Gate is the best place for it.
"I want to make sure the planning application which I understand should be submitted in June or July will hopefully go through before the autumn."
Mr Ferguson, who vigorously opposed the new Sainsbury's superstore at Ashton Gate to help pay for a new stadium at Ashton Vale, said he took his hat off to majority shareholder Steve Lansdown and his son, Jon, for supporting the plans in extremely difficult times.
The club has stressed it is not going to give up its fight over hopes to build a new stadium at nearby Ashton Vale.
But the site is still at the centre of a legal wrangle which could take months – if not years – to resolve.
The club has also insisted that it has not yet made a decision which site would be best for a new stadium – but the Ashton Gate rebuild gives them another option.
If the rebuild goes ahead, it would be phased over three years with each stand rebuilt in turn.
Matches would continue at the ground while the construction work was carried out.
Work would start by demolishing the Wedlock Stand at the end of the 2013/14 season and should then be finished in time for the 2015/16 season.
A rebuild of the Williams Stand would follow and the Dolman and Atyeo stands would be gutted and renovated.
The aim would be to complete the rebuild in time for the 2016/17 season.